What Is a Raspberry Pi W & How Can It Be Used?

Raspberry Pi W

The wireless version of the powerful Pico microcontroller board from Raspberry Pi opens up a world of possibilities for IoT projects. A Raspberry Pi Pico, like a Raspberry Pi computer, has GPIO pins that can be used to control and receive input from a variety of electronic devices. The picozero package is used in the new Introduction to Raspberry Pi Pico path to engage in some creative physical computing projects.

The original Pico, released by Raspberry Pi in January 2021, well did receive as a strong, low-cost ($4) microcontroller development board. It is powered by Raspberry Pi’s own RP2040 system-on-chip (SoC) and features 2MB of onboard flash storage, 264kB of RAM, and 40 pins—including three analog inputs and the unique Programmable I/O subsystem. One notable omission is the lack of onboard Wi-Fi. The $6 Pico W, which will be available at the end of June 2022, addresses this issue with built-in wireless connectivity. Let’s take a closer look at Pi’s capabilities and applications.

Hardware for the Raspberry Pi W

The Pico W board is the same size as the standard Pico, but the three SWD (Serial Wire Debug) pins have been pushed in from the edge to make room for the Infineon CYW43439 wireless LAN chip. Aside from the addition of onboard Wi-Fi, the Pico W is identical to the standard Pico model in terms of specifications. As a result, it should be compatible with all existing Pico add-ons.

Processor RP2040 with dual-core Arm Cortex-M0+ @ 133 MHz
Memory 264kB SRAM
Storage 2MB QSPI flash
Wi-Fi 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless LAN
Input/Output 40 x pins, with 26 x multifunctional GPIO (inc. 3 x analog inputs)
Interfaces 2 x I2C, 2 x SPI, 2 x UART, 1x SWD (Serial Wire Debug)
Custom Peripherals Support 8 × Programmable I/O (PIO) state machines
Power / Data Connection micro USB
Dimensions 21 mm × 51 mm

As you can see, standard digital communication protocols such as I2C, SPI, and UART are well supported. Furthermore, as with the standard Pico, there is a unique Programmable I/O subsystem that allows you to customize the I/O interface. In addition to connecting to non-standard peripherals, the independently running PIO blocks can be used to free up the main processor for other tasks, such as rendering composite video.

Because the standard Pico and Pico W boards do not include male pin headers, you must solder on suitable 0.1″ headers. In addition, Pico H and Pico WH models are available with headers already attached. The Pico, Pico H, and Pico W models are shown in the image below, from left to right.

C/C++ or MicroPython can be used to program all Pico models (and also CircuitPython). Wireless networking support is included in the standard Pico C/C++ SDK. To use the Pico W’s Wi-Fi functionality in MicroPython, you must first install the Pico W firmware UF2 file, which can be downloaded from the Raspberry Pi documentation. Holding the Pico’s BOOTSEL button while connecting it to a computer via its micro USB port, drag the UF2 file over to it. Check out our getting started with MicroPython on Raspberry Pi Pico guide for more information.

Follow the instructions in Raspberry Pi’s connection guide to using Pico W’s wireless capability to connect to your Wi-Fi network in MicroPython or C/C++ (PDF). The network library is used in MicroPythonto to connect to Wi-Fi.

Raspberry Pi W Projects in the Making

You can interact with other network devices and send and receive data from the internet when your Pico W is connected to Wi-Fi. So there’s a lot of room for all kinds of IoT projects—for ideas, check out our Arduino IoT projects, or try adding wireless functionality or a web interface to one of these Raspberry Pi Pico projects.

Web Server: The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s step-by-step project guide demonstrates how to convert your Pico W into a web server for controlling digital outputs from a browser and receiving sensor data. Garage Door Sensor: Jeff Geerling’s GitHub project sends data locally to Home Assistant to show whether his garage door is open or closed, which can be viewed on a web dashboard.

Pico W 2 Allows You To Go Wireless.

The Pico W microcontroller development board, like the standard Raspberry Pi Pico, is ideal for controlling electronics projects and has a very low power requirement, but it also includes onboard Wi-Fi connectivity for use in a variety of exciting IoT projects. Pico W has a wide range of applications, including adding wireless functionality to control an existing Pico project from a local network or the internet.

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